Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Spring Practice - Day #2

(picture from AJC)

Here are the tidbits from around the digital-ether based on today's practice:

Two hour session in shorts and helmets. Again, they started with punt drills, with T.Evans, R.Jones, T.Melton and J.Tarrant fielding punts. Coach Johnson was a little more pleased with the pace today:

"Practice was better and at a faster pace today, but we certainly have a long way to go."

Speaking out "routine" - the defense is changing more than their scheme. Seems their techniques are going more mainstream as well. Less back-pedling. More side-stepping and shuffling. Seems man-to-man coverage is making a return to the flats, which has been clearly absent the past 3 years. The defensive player quotes all seem positive about the changes. It appears that the defense will be easier to execute for the players, but still present plenty of challenges for offenses. We will see.

Offensively, there continues to be a strong focus on the passing game and the QB's looked sharper. Could this be Coach Johnson like a kid with his new Red Rider BB-Gun? As expected, they continued option drills as well. Very much a focus on the basics of the option, not the intracies.

Former players continue to comment on the higher level of intensity of practice compared to the previous regime. Listen to Adamm Oliver's radio show and learn a whole lot about what they have to say. Check out his website at Matt Rhodes said he has been watching the O-Line and thinks the new offense might have been perfect for a guy like him. VERY different type of O-Line play. WAY different. By the way, the D-Line has to wear mandatory knee braces during spring. Why? Well, the O-Line is all about more cut-blocking. Legal blocking mind you, but blocking that is more prone to lead to injury. So need to protect those D-Linemen.

Per various reports, since Jon Tenuta's departure, he no longer corners the market on raising his voice. Encumbant coaches and new ones alike are voicing themselves in much more auditory fashion. Evidently the message is still harsh when it needs to be, but the level of profanity seems to be down signficinatly. So, moms, you can now brings your babies to watch the defense practice.

Mike Knobler tells us that PJ's policy is to let a guy start the spring where he wants to play, then move them later if it looks like it will work out better somewhere else. Guys are trying new things out everywhere................ Greg Smith seems to be embracing the A-Back role............... Lots of experimentation in the secondary. Reese, Word-Daniels, Butler and Tarrant are battling at CB. Tony Clark is back at safety as the experiment at LB is apparently over. Just too many needs back there, as he lines up with Burnett, Reese and Blackwood................ Willie White continues to practice at safety and is happy about the change:

"I've always loved defense," White said. "I've kind of been hinting all along, so I welcome the move. Now, I'm just ready to play."
Paul Johnson specifically mentioned Jamaal Evans as having a good practice today, as "he did some good things". If you'll remember, Evans stood out his first spring as a freshman. Not that rankings mean anything, but don't forgot that one site listed him as the 6th best all-purpose back in the nation coming out of high school.

PJ told Mike Knobler that Josh Nesbitt showed improvement today but it will be weeks before there's a semblance of a depth chart at QB.

Tyler Melton and BeBe have looked good at WR.

Vance Walker was there but did not participate. He has a minor injury per AJC.. Daryl Richard wasn't there - had a class conflict.

Standard media group. Handful of former players - Rhodes, Oliver, J.Lewis............... Also, more local coaches and their staffs attending to watch.

The AJC did a nice story about Jacob Lonowski, who has decided to end his career and save his shoulders. I guess he's decided that picking up his own fork ws important when he's like.... 40. The reality is that stories like this are all too common, and they are the reality in why kids need to really take their collegiate decision seriously - not just for the sport they play. Nice story though.

Turns out Friday will be the first practice in pads and there's a scrimmage Saturday at 9:00am. The Spring Game is set for April 19th at 1 p.m. in Bobby Dodd Stadium.